Giving Communities a Voice

Aug 7, 2013 2:00 PM ET

On January 16, a Barrick transport truck struck a guard-rail on the heavily travelled C-489 Highway in northern Chile. The driver was uninjured, but the impact left an eight-meter gap in the guard-rail, putting passing vehicles at risk of veering off the two-lane highway, which snakes through the Andes Mountains near Barrick’s Pascua-Lama project.

Later that day, a grievance was filed to Pascua-Lama asking Barrick to repair the guard-rail. Carolina Vergara, the Grievance Officer on the Chilean side of the project, which straddles the Argentine-Chilean border, referred the grievance to the site’s logistics department. The logistics department investigated the incident, confirmed Barrick was responsible and funded the repair of the guard-rail. During the investigation, warning signs and traffic cones were placed by the hazardous section of the road alerting drivers to the potential danger. Vergara updated the complainant regularly during the process, which took a matter of weeks from the date the grievance was filed to the completion of the repairs, and later shared a photo of the repaired guard-rail.
“The complainant was pleased with the way we handled the situation and we were happy we could address the issue in a timely and satisfactory manner, which is what a good grievance mechanism is supposed to do,” Vergara says.